Featured Artists: ro Barragan (Buenos Aires), Patrick Cruz (Toronto), Atom Cianfarani (Montreal), Nicolas Fleming (Toronto), Marlene Jess (Vancouver), Lisa Meecham (Burlington), Joaquin Wall (Buenos Aires), Allyson Vieira (New York), and Shellie Zhang (Toronto)

Documentation: AGB, Yuula Benivolski | WAHC, Kat Williams

More Info: Art Gallery of Burlington

Download: AGB Exhibition Brochure | WAHC Exhibition Brochure


Art Gallery of Burlington
Burlington, Ontario
January 10 – July 5, 2020

Division of Labour is an exhibition bringing together artists who address issues of class, race, and labour as they relate to cultural waste. Including the works of artists who utilize recycled material in their work to illustrate the power and potential of reused matter for artistic production, the exhibition and ancillary programming are designed to educate about the scarcity of resources, labour rights, and the lack of living wages in the arts.

We are living in a time of increasing economic uncertainty, wage gaps, and class divides. Barter economy systems, critical discourse about consumption, and circuits of solidarity exchange are more present than ever in the daily working lives of artists and cultural producers. Division of Labour considered the true cost of artists’ labour and economic parity through their recovery of and access to excess material. The exhibition was not a simple display of objects constructed from trash, but worked to support the building of new networks, resources, and methods for the sustainability of artists’ work. It went beyond accessing free material and providing artist fees to opening dialogue about the systemic issues inherent in class dynamics, underemployment, and labour exploitation that plague our cultural industry.

The first edition was held at the Worker’s Arts & Heritage Centre in Hamilton from January – April, 2019 and featured the work of Basil AlZeri (Toronto/Guelph), ro Barragán (Buenos Aires), Ghost of a Dream (The Collaborative Project of Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom, Brooklyn), Rodrigo HGz (Glasgow), and Alejandro Tamayo (Hamilton).

At the Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) from January – July 2020, the learning and discussion was extended and built upon to capitalize on the labour investment (physical, emotional, and intellectual) of temporary exhibition production. Through the work of artists who utilize recycled material in their work, Division of Labour illustrated the power and potential of reused material for artistic production. The exhibition and ancillary programming were designed to educate about the scarcity of resources, labour rights, and the lack of living wages in the arts.

Artist Material Fund: A temporary service for a permanent problem
An important element of Division of Labour was putting talk into action!

The Artist Material Fund is an ongoing service to relocate material and diminish waste produced in the art industry, while providing resources to artists for production. The program seeks to actively cultivate an environment that supports and promotes the sharing of under-used goods to realize their full potential value and building more efficient studios. Materials collected from cultural institutions (such as building materials, paint, equipment, exhibition-specific fabrications, fabric, and more) in the GTHA are made available for free to artists and individuals in the community.

It is a simple model of saving material from the landfill and filling an artist’s studio with possibilities.